Six things we learned building this blog
The DLG Digital blog exists to share knowledge, develop our team and attract new people to come and join us.
The journey to this point has been a bit bumpy at times, so in the spirit of sharing and learning, here are six things we learned on the way:
1. Choose your framework wisely
Here in Digital, we work in Agile.
For the creation of the blog, we adopted Kanban, rather than Scrum, as we wanted to be able to rapidly respond to requirements and priorities.
Kanban allowed us to be more flexible with our scope in the time we had and have the ability to test and learn quickly. Regular deployments also enabled our key stakeholder to review and provide fast feedback.
Before you start work, think carefully about your intended result, and which system works best for you.
2. Make sure resources are in place
Closely connected to the first tip, have dedicated people on the job. In Digital, we are very results-driven and work to clear priorities. Because of that, the early weeks of the blog project were spent doing bits and pieces when there was time. Invariably something urgent would come up, which would take priority, and the blog would be sidelined. If we carried on like that, it would never get built.
So, we had to make the blog a priority. Once that was done, it was time to get people in place. No more borrowing time; to do the job right, we needed designers and developers dedicated to the cause. It wasn’t until we got a full-time scrum master involved that the project really started to fly.
3. Manage expectations
The first time we presented this site to our wider group of stakeholders, there was more of a fizzle than a bang. We had decided to work to a minimum viable product (MVP), and while they knew that, there were differing ideas of what “minimum” meant.
Some stakeholders were thrown by how stripped back the first iteration of the website was, especially when compared to the all-singing, all-dancing designs.
If you’re working iteratively, or moving towards an MVP, ensure everyone understands what that truly means.
Have the uncomfortable conversations right at the beginning, so everyone is aware of what is - and isn’t – feasible.
4. Beware scope creep
We suffered from scope creep throughout the early weeks of this project too; partly because we were a new team trying to please everyone, and partly because so many people around the business wanted to get involved in this new and exciting project.
Various talented folk dropped by to sprinkle in ideas and while that’s nice, there’s a fine line between helpful input and well-meaning meddling - only you can decide where that line is.
If you’re not careful, things will get muddied and overcomplicated, and the job will end up taking twice as long.
5. Prepare for everything
We’ve already talked about the unexpected setback of the first unveiling, but that wasn’t the only thing that took us by surprise.
Make sure you consider all wider business processes. Although our team were happy with the website to go live, there was quite a lot of painstaking form-filling, consulting various internal and external engineers and waiting for a variety of approvals that needed to be done.
Another lesson learned: always make sure you get your documentation in order and request approval way in advance – ideally when first designs are signed off. It will save a lot of arduous box-ticking and waiting when you’re ready to go live.
6. Stand your ground
Yes, this advice might contradict some of the previous tips, but sometimes you need to stand firm and continue on your charted course.
There might be tussles between design, development, content, stakeholders and others, so who makes the final decision? There are times where the only way to drive the project forward is to grab it by the scruff of the neck and take ownership.
If you’re dealing with lots of people and even more moving parts, sometimes being decisive (and maybe a little bit stubborn) is the right thing to do.
Where are we now?
In mid-May we finally went live. It was amazing to show everyone what we'd been working on for all this time.
Now we’re busy sharing our learnings with the rest of the teams. Building a product from scratch is a real eye-opener, and there are many things we’ll do differently next time.
We’ve already seen that the DLG Digital blog is paying its way in terms of learning, sharing and helping people develop; not just inside our business but outside too.